This is LONG overdue.
I saw Coco twice in the past month and the only reason I haven’t seen it a third time, is because…. taking the time to emotionally skewer myself a third time will only dehydrate me. I have a hard time staying hydrated as it is, and I will not let an exceptionally well made and heart wrenching story ruin what little progress I have made.
That said, I have thoughts. My thoughts are very similar to the status quo, but all my thoughts are regurgitated nonsense anyway, so i’m gonna share them regardless, and if you want to listen to me blather on about how much I adore this movie, then tune in, because I wasn’t just moved by Coco… I was lifted and tossed to the other end of the world.
So here’s the synopsis for it:
Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history
And DO THEY.
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first. This movie is so beautifully animated, some people could even get emotional without even finishing it. I’m not just just talking about the finger movements on the guitars. I’m not just talking about how well the skeletons are made, from their movements, to their overall designs, even down to their familiars, the alebrijes, most of which are gorgeous and ridiculously epic, see Frida and her magic monkey. I’m also talking about the scenery, the composition, the color, the life that presents itself throughout the land of the dead. The bridge from one land to the next is breath taking, but as you see the entire world unfold before you in towers and turrets, represented by every color on the wheel, with all of this detail and texture, it leaves you in awe. How much time did it take to make this movie again? Two years? Vaya. And that’s without the time it took to do the proper research for it in the first place, as this was apparently pitched in 2010.
All of this expresses the depth within the culture of Dia De Los Muertos that this movie delves into. You learn some things you might not have learned before. It’s not just telling this story in a newer package, but it’s taking the time to educate you on everything used to tell said story. It’s immersing you into the culture instead of just throwing it at you. I really appreciate this difference from other movies like the book of life that kind of just toss you into the deep end, and end up falling short just a bit.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book of life, but it has nothing on Coco.
The colors are deeper, and on a richer level. The story hits you harder, as it is not about a love triangle or a bet between celestial beings with obvious ends, it is about something all of us on some level appreciate. Family.
I am speaking as someone who does not find much value within my own bloodline, and I can say that this movie hit me in a way that a lot of the media I consume doesn’t typically touch. Not because it made me miss the days where I could call them my family, but because it truly is a beautiful feeling to have, and to witness when portrayed in the right ways. The love of a father and a daughter, the love between two people who never stopped loving each other despite the circumstances, and the love a person shares hand in hand with their passion, their motivation in life. Miguel is so ready and willing to risk it all to be just like De La Cruz, that he is almost blinded by him.
Now sure, maybe this movie is also a little predictable. But this doesn’t hurt every movie, and to be honest, in this day and age, it’s hard not to predict just about every outcome in every movie. Especially when it’s built into you over the years, to analyze what you consume on every level. You will of course notice patterns that show up, and you know what? There’s a reason that some of those patterns work. It’s the journey that matters, the experience of the story being told, the emotions that it puts your through.
Besides, people might have found Coco to fit the Pixar formula too well in some ways, but I can bet you that none of their works, whether they be in the past present or future, will ever have a character as #relatable as Abuelita, or Elena Rivera, and her badass chancleta… or boomerang slipper, if you prefer. She’s that Mami that puts extra food on your plate if you’re skinny, and likely calls your Gordita if you’re a chunky monkey like me.
Coco is something like a treat you only get once in a while. You kind of forget that you can enjoy things like it, until it comes along and reminds you of its existence, and you have this “aha!” moment, where you smile, and just linger there. Or cry, depending on the situation.
I did both.
More so the second time than the first.
Upon re-watching Coco you know the story. You understand every little thing on a much deeper level, and you find things you missed out on the first time, now that you’re looking at it with more open eyes.
Watching Hector’s character broke my heart the entire time during my second run through. If you’ve seen Coco, you’ll understand what I mean. During your first go-round, he’s charming, he’s a bit of a trickster, he’s funny, and just a little bit devilish. On the second run through you realize just what kind of coping mechanisms this man has in place because of everything that he’s been through, and what the real motivation is here.
I stand with Jeremy Jahns when he says that even the trailer makes him emotional after having seen it. The song Remember Me, makes me well up with tears from the very first chord and that really does suck, because the movie is kind of saturated in that song.
Oh yes. The music.
It’s all mariachi music, which is one of my hidden pleasures, though being of Latina origin myself, I wouldn’t really find that too surprising. My favorite song actually isn’t Remember me though, it’s Poco Loco. I thought it was cute, and extremely catchy (I mean I even sang a tiny cover and posted it on Instagram). I think it perfectly showed Miguel’s growth as an actual musician, as he not only took his first step towards understanding this driving musical force within him, but realizing his actual dream. It’s almost a shame that he doesn’t know the truth at this point. I also loved the song Llorona. The whole movie turns into a kind of musical in my mind the more I think about it. Though the musical scenes actually do drive the plot forward more-so than holding them back. Which I did appreciate.
And can I also state that Dante has to be one of my favorite things about this movie? In every promo, and even the first time I saw him appear on screen, I thought he would end up being kind of like.. HeiHei from Moana. Annoying, and just there for no other reason than to just be a convenient plot device to be shoehorned in for comedic relief.
I was right. But I did end up loving him halfway through the movie…. Maybe it’s the dog lover in me… but I had a soft spot for that goofball.
I feel like I should probably stop now with the raving and ranting about Coco… my main points are
1- It is beautifully done, and the music is great
2- It made me cry big messy tears, both times.
3- It’s worth rewatching after the first viewing
oh and 4- IT IS NOT THE BOOK OF LIFE.
It has it’s own original music, and an entirely different story based on family values, and the growth of a musician as he learns to appreciate both sides of one coin. It isn’t just beautiful on a completely separate level. It is also a well of emotional triumphs, and is definitely not as slap-sticky.
But what do I know though?
I’m just a girl behind a computer screen.